The 365 Ways Blog

Michael Norton is author of "365 Ways to Change the World", which provides an issue for each day of the year, interesting facts, inspiring case studies of people doing things to address the issue and ideas for action. Originally published in the UK, versions with local content have been published in Australia, Canada, India, South Africa and the USA. To find out more visit our website:

10 January 2007

Share your books with the world

LibraryThing is a social network of book lovers. It was created by Tim Spaulding who lives in Chicago. It is the book lovers analogue to Flickr which is an online community around digital photos and around favorite websites.

People are defined by what they read, and sometimes a book that someone really likes has the potential to influence others or even to change the whole world.

LibraryThing connects people through their book collections. It allows them to list all their books or just the books they love and want to tell others about. You can browse people’s collections, trade recommendations, and even develop relationships with people who share your interests. It isn't called social networking for nothing.

To date, more than 39,000 people have listed books on the site, posting information about more than 2.8 million titles.

If you go to the site, you can search your favorite authors to see how popular they are or read the reviews people have posted about their books. You can find out what books the people who share your passion for a particular author or book are reading. Check out the "Zeitgeist" page, where you'll find the top 25 titles, the top 75 authors, the top 75 categories which have been tagged and more.

It’s easy to catalogue your books. You key give yourself a username and password, and the service is free for the first 200 books, and annual membership costs $10 per annum, lifetime membership $25.

To start cataloguing, you just enter a title or an author, and the site searches and major library sites for matching books. Then, with another click, you can add the book to your list. If you have a rare or unusual book, you just add it manually.

Each time you add a book, LibraryThing automatically posts an image of its front cover, its date of publication, ISBN (International Standard Book Number), other editions, and where you can buy the book online. You can add tags, a star rating, a Dewey decimal number, the date you acquired the book, the day you started reading, and the date you finished, your own comments, or even a review.

The site automatically generates book recommendations based on the titles you own. It gives you a list of other users who own the same books. You can track down someone who shares your tastes and request a recommendation from them or ask them if a book you're thinking of buying is any good.

Sign up at

Another way of sharing your books with the world is BookCrossing:

Get a copy of a favourite book, write some comments about what you like it and others should read it in the inside front cover. Log it on the BookCrossing website when it will be given a Unique Reference Number. Download a label to paste into the book with instructions for what to do when you find it… read it and pass it on. And then leave the book somewhere for someone to pick up… hopefully read… and then pass on to someone else. You can track its progress as your book travels the world on the BookCrossing website.

Books have the power to change people’s thinking, and to change the world. Make the books that have inspired you ambassadors for change.


Blogger Andy Erickson said...


Thanks for this post, and moreover, for your blog. I don't read it often, but when I do, I am usually inspired to "do" something. This morning, I logged onto LibraryThing for the first time, having learned of it on your site. I have no doubt that this will bring me pleasure, satisfaction and connection to new ideas / people. What a lovely gift you've given me! Thanks and best wishes.

8:07 am  

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